Attachment theory, developed by therapist John Bowlby, seeks to provide the framework for how the attachment system develops, presents and connects––and disconnects––in our relationships.
Babies are born pre-programmed to form attachment to others to ensure survival. In human evolution, babies who remained close to their caregivers were more likely to grow into adulthood (and in turn reproduce).
When primary caregivers are available and respond to an infant’s needs and cues, the infant learns the caregiver is dependable, which allows the child to develop a sense of security that is the base for the child to then explore the world.
If we grow up with mostly responsive, pro-social and consistent caregivers, that tends to prime us for secure attachment.
If, as children, our needs are not met or we experience neglect, birth trauma, illness or disadvantageous socio-economic conditions, we likely developed attachment injuries or adaptations––less healthy patterns, emotions and behaviors that allowed us to survive and cope with less-than-ideal circumstances.